Giant Bomb Review

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Captain America: Super Soldier Review

3
  • PS3
  • X360

Captain America may be derivative as all get out, but that doesn't mean there aren't some pleasures to be found in throwing a shield at a fake Nazi.

Make no mistake: Captain America: Super Soldier owes much of its existence to Batman: Arkham Asylum. The developers at Next Level Games, who have already proven they’re capable of duplicating other developers' mechanics, have dutifully captured Batman’s arsenal of punches, dodges, grabs and counters within the framework of the Captain America character, resulting in combat that's fun enough to invite the comparison to Rocksteady's hallowed game. Regrettably, the rest of Super Soldier isn't strong enough to stand out from other comic book-licensed games. A weak story, boring platforming, and dully recurrent gameplay ensure that Captain America doesn’t step outside of Batman’s long shadow. Super Soldier is a decent enough action-adventure game, but it’s completely inessential.

Fake Nazis are no match for punching.

At least you won’t be spoiling much of the upcoming movie by playing this game. Super Soldier follows Steve Rogers, now Captain America, as he investigates a mysterious German castle that serves as the location for Hydra, the Nazi-stand-ins that desire to raise an army of their own super soldiers to spread fake-Nazi chaos across the world. As perennial straight arrow Captain America, you're tasked with sabotaging the facility and crippling the efforts of Hydra head scientist Arnin Zola.

As you would imagine, the main mechanic that differentiates Captain America from his foes is his shield, and the weapon is integrated well into combat. The shield gives Captain America a throwing weapon that is extremely useful for enemy takedowns. A quick double-tap of the right trigger will cause the shield to ricochet around enemy groups, which allows for more effective control in larger encounters. The shield’s most useful function is its defensive utility; with a well-timed button press, Captain America can block ranged attacks from any direction, or even send the shots flying back at opponents. Sending sniper bullets back at Hydra grunts never fails to satisfy. Beyond those additions (and a couple of super moves), Super Soldier borrows much of its combat from the Arkham Asylum blueprint, which means that it’s still pretty fun to wade into crowds and decimate the lot with well-timed counters, skillful dodging, and swift attacks.

However, that comparison to Arkham Asylum only benefits Captain America in the context of combat. Part of what makes Batman: Arkham Asylum so interesting and fun is getting access to all of those wonderful toys. Batman’s assortment of grappling hooks, batarangs, explosives and flight capes provided the impetus to design a game with a multitude of paths to explore, as well as numerous ways to dispatch enemies. By contrast, Captain America... well, the dude pretty much just has a shield (and some explosives), and the game is designed as such. You’ll spend the whole of Super Soldier moving through the game’s highly linear story and gameplay, with virtually no changes to the game’s combat model from opening to closing credits. Only in the last hour does the game open up and let you explore the whole of the Hydra compound, but at that point you’ll be in striking distance of finishing the game entirely, and you’re probably better served by just seeing the game to its conclusion than spending time exploring the sewer networks that connect locations together.

In the battle between claw and shield, the winner is the one with the Quick Time Event.

When you're not fighting, you're probably grabbing onto ledges and flipping around. Using something that sort of resembles the flashy-but-consequence-free platforming of Uncharted as a starting point, Super Soldier introduces platforming sequences that are literally one-button Quick Time Events. Failing to push the button at the proper interval merely results in Captain America halting his movement and staying on the environmental object he previously latched onto. There is zero penalty for missing these sequences, and the timing throughout the event is so specific that it’s easy to lose your momentum. These platforming events suffer even more when the Captain is expected to change direction, as it’s hard to know which direction on the analog stick to push to actually turn the other way. These acrobatic events make sense within the context of Captain America the character, but the events themselves are so stiff and boring that they detract from the game rather than add variety.

The only other element to provide a break from the competent combat in Captain America is a swarm of collectables that crosses the line from excessive into overwhelming. Throughout his journey around the Hydra compound, Captain America will stumble across enemy intel, stacks of intel, briefcases (probably full of intel), film strips, schematics, falconry gear, table statues, ornamental eggs (intel?), music boxes, and rooster statues to be collected and returned to the Allied brass. Beyond the ridiculous quality of picturing Captain America sticking a dictionary’s worth of intel down his pants, the problem with all of these collectables is that they overshadow the main gameplay; at times, I felt I was spending more time deviating from the main path down really obvious side paths to collect this junk than I was fighting fake Nazis. It’s repetitive busywork, but it's different repetitive busywork, representing the only real distraction from the rote, plodding main path you're otherwise wandering down.

While the combat might offer you a few hours of relatively amusing fake-Nazi bashing, there's little here that hasn't been done better by other developers with other superheroes. Captain America is absolutely a piece of summer fluff; a competent but slight release that you’re bound to forget about the second it leaves your console.

64 Comments
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Posted by ArmedBear

Matt Kessler: Super Intern

Posted by Sammo21

I'll be picking my copy up after work. I found some pleasure going through Green Lantern, so I am hoping for the same here.

Posted by Animasta

yeap, this game is totally better than earth defense force

Posted by bkbroiler

I hope it's not an insult to Kessler to say I'm surprised at how good these reviews are.

Posted by leejunfan83

good to see new blood doing reviews the old jaded were getting too predictable

Posted by rmanthorp

Oh Captain Batman: Arkham Soldier?

Moderator
Posted by rjayb89

The fuck, Kessler. You made me lose my ICI points.

Posted by EpicSteve

Your highest review score, ever. Good job.

Posted by Ventilaator
@rjayb89 said:
The fuck, Kessler. You made me lose my ICI points.
I saw that the schedule said that there's a review for this coming up and I went and bet 3 stars. Success!
Posted by Jolt92

Good review, complimented the Quick Look very well.

Posted by Hockeymask27

Awesome review I'll probably give it a rent at some point. Also I still hate your review picture it gives me nightmares.

Posted by Juicebox

Thats too high of a score

Posted by TheCheese33

@Laketown said:

yeap, this game is totally better than earth defense force

The ironic thing is your pitiful, pathetic snark is actually accurate. It IS better.

Posted by MEATBALL

It sounds a bit like Wolverine Origins in that it could be a fun distraction if you were absolutely itching for something new (well...you know) to play.

Posted by SHADOWINFINITE

Good review, also good quick look

Posted by MattBodega

@MEATBALL: That is an apt-ass comparison, though Cap doesn't have any of Wolverine's delightful violence.

Posted by Duffman

Oh god Kessler reviewed a game.

Posted by RobotHamster

That little angel looks just like Kessler!

Posted by adz117

Kessler is gaining power, this terrifies me.

Posted by benjaebe

Another Kessler review? You're spoiling us, Matt.

Posted by mosdl

this just makes we want to play through arkham again.

Posted by SDHero

Kessler, this is your best review yet. This one has a real sense of individual voice beyond the Giant Bomb-like tone that you've always managed to cultivate. Also, you do a great job of focusing on your personal experience with the game without getting too far into minor or uninteresting details. Keep up the excellent work, it's a pleasure to watch you grow as a writer.

Posted by Stubee

This piece of shit gets a better score than EDF:IA?  
 
*Shakes fist* 
KeeeeeesssssssssSSSSSSSSSLLLLEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Fuga

Using word derivative in review. Review can be completely ignored.

Posted by Bass

This is a well-written review. I had thought that this game was going to be pretty laughable like many other product tie-ins are, but it's nice to know that they at least attempted to emulate the fun combat system that was Arkham Asylum. Thanks for the review, even if I have no intention of buying it.

Posted by dropabombonit

This is what I expected it to score from the 30 mins I played at a mates house, the game is the definition of average

Posted by Undeadpool

Kessler is the new Alex! Does this mean Alex will actually get to start reviewing not-questionable games?

Posted by Vitor

@bkbroiler said:

I hope it's not an insult to Kessler to say I'm surprised at how good these reviews are.

He writes really well - shame he'll still likely get a load of flak for bothering to post this.

Posted by GetEveryone

Um, I may just not be reading it correctly, but that summary sentence makes little sense: 'CA might be as derivative as all get out...' 
 
What?

Edited by Rolyatkcinmai

@GetEveryone said:

Um, I may just not be reading it correctly, but that summary sentence makes little sense: 'CA might be as derivative as all get out...' What?

Problem?

Edit: to describe something in absolute relativity to its spectrum of reality

This place is cool as all get out. This food is gross as all get out. She is lookin' hot as all get out. He is sharp as all get out tonight!

Online
Posted by EddyNZ

Good review, will keep it in mind when it hits the bargain bin.

Posted by Yodasdarkside

Change that fucking avatar, Kessler; it's creepy as hell.

Edited by Sammo21

Looking at this quick look again, its not like the machine gun guys were going full blast when you encountered them. they did about the same thing. Seems better than most movie tie-ins. Green Lantern was about the same, but I'll enjoy it.

Posted by artofwar420

Bravo Kessler, nicely reviewed. Maybe with all this review money you could get a new non-scary wallet? /jk

Posted by kingzetta

sounds on par with that wolverine game that was not too bad.

Posted by CptBedlam

Man, Kessler got me some quality entertainment from the two very mediocre games he excellently reviewed and QLed recently. I think he's ready for a good game, guys.

Posted by Xpgamer7

Seems exactly what I expected.

Posted by aceofspudz

@Fuga said:

Using word derivative in review. Review can be completely ignored.

Fails to write in complete sentences. Fails to explain thoughts in coherent manner. Comment can be safely ignored.

Posted by admanb

Excellent review. Laughed out loud at the line, "... Captain America sticking a dictionary’s worth of intel down his pants."

Posted by Zabant

Kessler stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run.

Edited by CptBedlam

@nail1080 said:

I don't come hear to read reviews written by anyone other than Alex, Jeff, Ryan, Brad, Vinny or Drew. No time for this amateur shite, sorry but I'll pass on this one.

Keep your ignorant BS to yourself.

bottom line: Kessler wins by doing great work, you childish haters lose.

Posted by TheCheese33

@nail1080 said:

I don't come hear to read reviews written by anyone other than Alex, Jeff, Ryan, Brad, Vinny or Drew. No time for this amateur shite, sorry but I'll pass on this one.

And I didn't come "hear" to see a well-written review critiqued by some child who doesn't even know how to spell, let alone write anything of worth.

Posted by Giefcookie

A fine read good sir. And a nice quick look. And I agree with what was said before, Kessler seems to be ready to review a 'proper' game.

Posted by ReyGitano

Make no mistake: starting your review by saying make no mistake is a hell of a cliche.

Other than that problem though, the review reads well. Don't do it again; I'll always be watching.

Posted by Skooky

At least the avatar thinks something is pretty rad.

Posted by GetEveryone
@SlashseveN303: Proper use of a semi-colon!  
 
:O
 
*Nerd high-five*
Posted by unholyone123

This is America damn it! Good review Kessler, I think you have proven yourself as a competent reviewer. It's time to take off the training wheels and make him a full time reviewer, and for God sakes, get him a proper avatar.

Posted by Cornman89

Delightful avatar, Kessler.

Posted by briangodsoe

looks like a good bargain bin game like Wolverine was. When I can pay 10 bucks for a new copy like I did for Wolverine, I'll probably get it.

Posted by Mr_Skeleton

Now I know why GB has interns, so someone would review the tie in movie games. Good work nonetheless.

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